I've decided to add to my Monday line up. Alternating between Weapon of the Week and The Point (I'll come up with a better name for it later [maybe]).
This weeks Point is on using the right weapon for the right environment.
Imagine, if you will, a big burly man with a long sword facing a smaller man with a long knife in a huge open field. Unless the man with the long sword is a total idiot, the man with the knife doesn't stand a chance against the reach of the long sword.
Now imagine the same two fighters in the middle of a tangled jungle, vines hanging down from above, thick bushes pressing in on all sides. Now it's the man with the long sword who's in trouble. With the length of his sword, he can't swing it in a close confined area like that. The man with the knife just has to wait for him to get tangled and move in.
It would be the same on a ship or some other cramped space. That's why cutlasses were short, because they were designed to be used on ships where a longer sword could get caught in the rigging.
So when you go to chose a sword for your hero (or heroine), be sure to take into account the environment you are going to have them fighting in and how effective you want them to be.